Promising New Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis with Stem Cells
Current drugs and medications for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are administered to slow down the progression of the disease and reduce its symptoms. These drugs are known to suppress the immune responses that are caused by MS. The reversal of previous symptoms and preventing the disease's progression is rarely achieved.
As such, stem cell-based therapies have recently emerged as a promising novel treatment option for MS. Stem cells have shown to have beneficial effects on the immune system, but also stimulate regeneration of the neurological damages that are induced by MS. Therefore, stem cell-based therapies are an emerging option to treat the disease.
Stem Cell-based Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Figure 1: Healthy neuron vs. neuron affected by Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis is caused by a misguided autoimmune response (attack) against the “myelin sheath” of nerve cells. The myelin sheath is much like an insulation layer of a cable. Its function is to electrically insulate the nerve, to protect it, and to ensure the proper function of the nervous system (see Fig. 1). Damage or degeneration of this protective layer will lead to impairments to the normal function of the affected nerves. The severity of impairments varies among individuals.
Stem cells appear to have two major beneficial effects for treating this severe autoimmune neurodegenerative disease, as they were shown to:
1) Repair damaged nerves (remyelination)
2) Modify the effects of the immune system, such as protection from further attacks on the myelin sheaths (neuroprotection).
Treating MS patients with stem cell-based therapies has already been conducted with much success in clinical trials. The promising results from these phase I/II studies have shown to:
* reduce inflammation
* improve visual acuity and
evoke improved response latency
* increase of optic nerve area
* inhibition of new lesion development
and reduction of lesion areas
* fewer incidences of relapse as compared to
patients who received anti-inflammatory
and immunosuppression treatments only
And most importantly, until now, no major side effects have been noted in treating MS patients with stem cells.
The scientific breakthroughs in treating MS has inspired our scientists to offer a novel therapy against MS. ANOVA utilizes the Stem Cell Secretome, a therapeutic which is made of paracrine factors of stem cells with the goal to achieve the above mentioned effects. In Europe, we are the first clinic to offer this treatment.
According to the regenerative effects of Mesenchymal Stem Cells on the nervous and immune system, all types of Multiple Sclerosis can be treated effectively, such as: Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS), Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) and Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS).
To find out more about ANOVA's Stem Cell-based Multiple Sclerosis treatment plans and guidelines, schedule an appointment today.
Stem Cell-based Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis: Your Personalized High Quality Treatment
ANOVA uses the knowledge of recent scientific research to produce and combine effective stem cell therapies.
Furthermore, we have developed and applied standardized procedures for stem cell isolation and processing, as well as diagnostic work-up. This includes, amongst others, the use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), coupled with extensive blood examination. In addition to our advanced diagnostics, we objectively track the therapeutic success of the stem cell-based treatment after its administration. We aim to provide the best personalized stem cell-based therapy for patients that seek treatment for MS.
Stem cell therapy is an experimental therapy. As such, it is important that your doctor assesses the benefits and the risks for your individual case. If the benefits outweigh the risks, your doctor can suggest stem cell therapy as an option to you. To find out more about your treatment options at ANOVA Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a private German clinic, please click here to contact us.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and the brain. In patients with MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath which is wrapped around nerve fibers. This sheath is called myelin. This autoimmune attack causes nervous system damage and can lead to communication issues between the brain and rest of your body.
MS is potentially disabling because it can cause permanent damage to the nerves.
There is currently no treatment which can cure MS. However, there are some therapies which can potentially help improve recovery times after attacks, alter disease course and manage the symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is unfortunately one of those diseases which has a variety of symptoms, making it difficult for potential patients to immediately identify. They also differ greatly from patient to patient, and can change with time. All of this is due to the fact that different nerve fibers can be affected, and with that, the symptoms can be different.
A lot of symptoms relate to movement impairment; examples are:
- Numbness / weakness in the limbs. This can also occur on one side of the body at a time
- Tremor and lack of coordination, including unsteady gait
- Uncomfortable electrical sensations which happen with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)
- Tingling / pain in different parts of the body
Some symptoms relate to vision impairment; examples are:
- Loss of vision, often in one eye at a time
- Pain during eye movement
- Double vision for an extended amount of time
- Blurry vision
Other symptoms can include:
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Impairment of speech
- Impairments in sexual, continence and bowel functions
What causes Multiple Sclerosis and what are the risk factors?
MS is considered an autoimmune disease, because the patient’s own immune system attacks part of the body, in this case the nerve fibers. Unfortunately, the causes of MS are unknown. The current scientific hypothesis is that the underlying mechanism is either related to destruction by the immune system or failure of the myelin-producing cells. Scientists believe that it may be a combination of environmental factors, such as a viral infection, and genetics which is responsible for the disease.
Factors that may increase the risk of developing MS are:
- Age: While the disease can develop in patients of any age, it often develops between the ages of 20 and 40 years.
- Sex: Women are 2 to 3x as likely to develop relapsing-remitting MS compared to men.
- Family history: The risk to develop MS is higher if parents or siblings have MS.
- Specific viral infections: Some viruses have been linked to MS, such as Epstein-Barr.
- Race: White people are at highest risk of developing MS, which people of Asian, African or Native American descent have the lowest risk.
- Vitamin D deficiency: The risk to develop MS is higher when there are low levels of vitamin D and/or low exposure to sunlight.
Types of Multiple Sclerosis, disease course and complications
Several types and patterns of progression have been described. The classification of the disease takes into account the past course to predict the future course. This is necessary to be able to determine prognosis and to make sound treatment decisions.
Currently, four types of MS can be described:
- Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
- Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
- Primary progressive MS (PPMS)
- Secondary progressive MS (SPMS)
Most patients with MS initially experience the relapsing-remitting type, which is characterized by unpredictable relapses followed by longer time periods of remission, when symptoms partially or completely improve. During remission, there are no new signs of disease activity. The relapsing-remitting type of MS usually begins with a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), where a person has an attack suggestive of demyelination, but does not fulfill the criteria for MS.
In 10 to 20% of patients, primary progressive MS occurs. Here, there is no remission after the initial symptoms and is characterized by progression of disability from onset, with no or minor remissions and improvements. Secondary progressive MS occurs in at least half of those with initial relapsing-remitting disease. When this happens, patients will develop progressive neurologic decline between acute attacks without any definite periods of remission. In these cases, occasional relapses and minor remissions may appear. Disease progression is very different from patient to patient when they deal with secondary-progressive MS.
MS can unfortunately cause a lot of other complications as well. Multiple sclerosis patients may develop:
- Muscle stiffness / spasms
- Forgetfulness, mood swings, depression and other mental impairments
Why modern medicine should use stem cells for Multiple Sclerosis - The Scientific Background:
Figure 2: the body's own immune cells destroy myelin in Multiple Sclerosis
"Multiple sclerosis is caused by the destruction of the myelin sheath of nerve cells, which could be reconstructed by the use of stem cell-based treatment”.
In the past decade, stem cell research has revealed a great potential of utilizing Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) to reduce inflammation and beneficially modulate the immune system. Apart from the immunosuppressive abilities, MSCs were shown to stimulate the regeneration of a variety of damaged tissues.
The so-called paracrine activity of stem cells has been characterized by the induction of regenerative effects on damaged tissue and neurons. The paracrine action is described by the production of important factors that are secreted by cells, for efficient communication between surrounding cells and tissues. Stem cells themselves have been shown to produce these factors to initiate the communication pathways with the damaged cells and tissues to trigger and stimulate their regeneration (see Fig. 2). The regenerative factors are composed of growth factors, cytokines and cell cycle regulating miRNAs. They are packed in lipid shells (exosomes and microvesicles) for the transport of information, i.e. throughout the body.
New scientific data is constantly emerging, further confirming and elaborating upon the benefits of stem cell-based treatments for neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases. For more detailed information about the current stem cell research, please click here.
Scientists and physicians are seeing a great potential of stem cells to significantly ameliorate the symptoms MS and to slow down the progression of the disease. In the future it may be possible to completely stop MS from progressing and perhaps even curing the disease, with stem cells or stem cells in combination with other measures. But more clinical work will be necessary to reach the end goal of curing MS.
If you have any questions regarding our stem cell-based treatments for MS, please feel free to contact us or apply for a treatment here.
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